Connecting with Families
“Faith is learned as it is woven seamlessly into the fabric of daily life,” says Traci Smith in Faithful Families (p. 1).
As ministry leaders, we’re called to help our congregation encourage and equip families as they nurture faith at home. Each resource in this section has been chosen for its ability to be seamlessly woven into the life of a family, as opposed to being yet another thing for busy families to add to their “to do” lists. (We call that our Family Do-Ability Test.)
Some ideas for equipping families with these tools:
- Link to them from your church website.
- Post a “Tool of the Week” in your bulletin or online.
- Purchase the items for your church library.
- Set up a Family Faith Formation display and lend families the tools they’d like to use.
- Purchase items in bulk and make them available for families to purchase at a discount or by donation.
- Develop a faith formation plan in which your church blesses families with particular tools as part of a milestone celebration (for example, a God Loves Me book and/or the Home Grown Handbook for Christian Parenting as a baptism gift, a copy of Parenting in the Pew when a child enters preschool, a set of God’s Big Story cards or The Jesus Storybook Bible when a child begins school).
- Provide families with a “Welcome to God’s Family” basket of resources when they have their first child.
If there’s a tool you need for families but don’t see here, we’ll try to find it. Contact us at [email protected].
- Worshiping with kids can be hard work. The letter Dear Parents: Thank You for Bringing Your Children to Worship (which could be shared with the entire congregation) encourages parents to keep at it; so does Loud Whispers—Worshiping with Children.
- Pastor and parent Mark Stephenson says that your ministry will be enhanced if you ask parents of children with disabilities to tell you about their life. We agree! For a ministry training video on the topic, check out Church Experience of Parents of Children with Disabilities.
- Welcome families with children to worship by creating your own version of a pew card from Princeton CRC in Kentwood, MI called Celebrating Children.
- Depending on when your children’s ministry occurs, there may come a time when the children in your congregation are attending the full worship and/or the sermon for the first time. Equip those families with the information in Helping Parents Bring their Children to the Sanctuary for the First Time and A Letter to Parents Whose Children Are Staying for the Sermon for the First Time.
- In The Van Trip Home Carolyn Brown says the post-worship ride home “can be ‘the cherry on the sundae’ or can undo every good thing that happened during worship.” Help parents make the most of that time with her three tips.
- Take It. Break It. Share It. Love It is a post that provides families with talking points on the topic of communion. The family devotional guide You’re Invited does the same and can be used for family devotions over and over again.
- It’s hard to know what to say when supporting someone who has experienced profound loss. 10 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Parent is an important read.
- The author of My first-grade daughter is “an Easter girl." Together we’re learning about resurrection wondered if “all the Bible stories read to her child were really sinking in” (parents/caregivers of the children you teach may wonder the same). Share her post with families prior to Lent.
- Ten Things I Want to Tell Parents describes the things every parent should know as they seek to nurture the faith of their children.
- Ten Ways for Families to Engage Kids in Worship is a wonderful tool for families. Find out why and how to use it here.
- Support faith nurture when school’s out for summer by sharing with families these 5 Questions to Ask Kids This Summer.
- Parents need spiritual care too. Encourage them to take a breath with this list of 30 mini-Sabbath ideas from Traci Smith.
- Share the Spiritual Characteristics of Children chart with families by printing copies or sending them the link. It also includes information on how children experience the Lord’s Supper.
- Take-Homes That Make a Difference at Home is a post filled with practical tips to ensure that this valuable family faith formation tool gets used.
- Take-Out Church: A Summer Tool for Home and Traveling showcases a clever way for congregations to support family faith at home during the summer months.
- A few weeks before Easter share this post on 6 Tools for Building Faith at Easter.
- God’s Big Story cards provide a fun family devotional time with children ages 5-12. Two ideas for getting them into the hands of families: order a bunch and invite families to purchase them, or buy one for every family in your church and introduce them by using the ideas in this free Family Event. Tip: Print and share with families this jumbo version of card #82 at Christmas; then bless them with a set of cards to kick off the new year.
- Many parents feel unsure about how to pray with their children. Support them with the practical ideas and encouraging words in the post Praying with Kids.
- Help parents pray for their kids by sharing this post with them: Do You Pray for Your Children? How to Start.
- A family event can be a wonderful way to introduce families to your children’s ministry program. For example, the Welcome (or Welcome Back!) to DWELL Family Event offers ideas that will help to encourage and equip families.
Recommended Resources for Families
Equip your families by pointing them toward these outstanding resources via your church newsletter, bulletin, website, social media pages, sharing the link to this toolkit, or whatever works best in your context.